If you like to eat salt, but are afraid of what it can do to your heart, I've got great news for you. I've found an inexpensive way to eat salt and still decrease your risk for heart disease.

All you have to do is switch to a potassium-enriched salt!

Potassium is a crucial mineral for all your cells. This is especially true for your heart cells. Your cells crave potassium, but don't want too much sodium. So each cell has pumps on its membrane to haul potassium in and kick sodium out. This makes your cells extremely rich in potassium, and low in sodium.

But the environment outside your cells is exactly the opposite. There, sodium is king and potassium is low. That's why your blood tests will show sodium levels around 142 and potassium only about 4.2. Even though your blood potassium levels aren't very high, your blood requires that level to remain fairly constant. And it will do everything necessary to keep it constant - even if it has to rob your cells of the potassium they need.

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That means you can have a potassium deficiency in your cells, but your blood test will say your potassium levels are normal. Only when the intracellular potassium gets too low to sustain blood potassium will you see blood potassium drop. But, by then, you have a very dangerous deficiency within your cells. In fact, you can get into trouble long before a serious deficiency shows.

Switching to a potassium-enriched salt allows your body to absorb the potassium it needs, without stealing it from your cells. But will this help you avoid heart disease? One study says, "Yes."

Researchers conducted a randomized study on 1,981 elderly men (the average age was 74.8 years). They divided the men into two groups. They replaced the table salt of the first group and had them use potassium-enriched salt instead. Then they compared their heart health to the control group that used regular table salt.

The group taking the potassium enriched salt had significantly reduced heart disease mortality. Their incidence of vascular-related death was only 13.1 per 1,000 persons compared to 20.5 per 1,000 persons using regular table salt. The researchers determined the extra potassium reduced their heart risk by 41%. Furthermore, the extra potassium gave them 0.3-0.9 extra years of life compared to the control group.

That's powerful information. You can cut your risk of heart disease simply by switching to potassium-enriched salt. The cost of doing so is negligible. The extra potassium provides the essential nutrient for your heart cells.

No matter what, I strongly suggest that you toss out regular table salt (e.g., Morton's). Regular salt is like eating vascular disease. Sea salt has almost the exact mineral concentrations as the human body. So when you use sea salt, you're taking in minerals in the proper proportions for your body. You can find potassium-enriched salt at most health food stores and on the Internet. I prefer Celtic sea salt and Himalayan salt, which I'll tell you more about in future issues.

Ref: "Effect of potassium-enriched salt on cardiovascular mortality and medical expenses of elderly men," Chang HY, Hu YW, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2006; 83(6): 1289-96.

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